UnitedHealth, Mayo combine data to research medical treatments


UnitedHealth and Mayo Clinic have agreed under a new partnership to combine their data for more than 110 million patients to help research methods to improve healthcare while lowering costs.

Under the new initiative, called Optum Labs, researchers will mine UnitedHealth's insurance claims for more than 109 million people, as well as Mayo Clinic's five million patient records, to determine best treatments and procedures for various health conditions, according to MedCity News.

"Bringing together in one location health information and insights from many contributors can provide a deeper understanding of important trends and patient care issues that no single organization could achieve on its own," Andy Slavitt, group executive vice president of UnitedHealth's Optum subsidiary, said in a statement. "At Optum Labs, we have the opportunity to generate insights and develop practical innovations that care providers, life sciences companies and government agencies can begin using today to improve patient care."

Optum Labs won't be a money-generating project, but instead a "dedicated research unit," UnitedHealth CEO Stephen Hemsley said. The overarching goal is to create "a neutral place to conduct research" and make the findings available to the public, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Both UnitedHealth and Mayo hope the research initiative eventually will include other healthcare organizations, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. "We think this is just the start," Slavitt said. "The two of us conceived this effort, but by no means should we be doing this by ourselves."

To learn more:
- here's the UnitedHealth statement
- read the MedCity News article
- see the Wall Street Journal article
- check out the Minneapolis Star Tribune article

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